Albemarle seeks study of multiple options for new pump station
When the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority meets next week, the executive director of the Albemarle County Service Authority will ask for further study of several potential locations for a new pump station.
“We should keep all these options alive and do some basic study on them so [the community] can continue to do some comparison [between] them,” Gary O’Connell said Thursday.
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110519-ACSA
Plans are being drawn up to replace the existing pump station in order to comply with an order from the Department of Environmental Quality to stop raw sewage from flowing into the Rivanna River and other local waterways after heavy storms.
The DEQ consent order requires the RWSA to select a site by Dec. 31. Four official options have been advanced, and others are still being developed.
However, Charlottesville city councilors have said they will not support a plan to replace the station at its current location in the Woolen Mills neighborhood, nor will they support a plan to build one on nearby RWSA property adjacent to the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The latter would require digging a 30-foot-deep trench through the backyards of about five homes in Woolen Mills in order to extend the existing sewer line.
Instead, the council said Monday that it only wanted further study of a plan to move the station across the Rivanna River into Albemarle, as well as an option to drill a 2,000-foot-long tunnel to extend the sewer line to the Moores Creek facility while minimizing the neighborhood impact.
O’Connell suggested that further study of the existing site, known as Option A, could involve working with Woolen Mills residents to address their concerns.
“Could [the station] go further underground? Could it stay on the existing [RWSA] property? Is there a way to take advantage of that site?” O’Connell asked.
O’Connell said Option A is likely to be the least expensive option, with a preliminary cost estimate of $25 million. The proposal to move the facility across the river has a preliminary cost estimate of $34 million, and the proposal to move it down the river has a preliminary cost of $37 million.
O’Connell said those estimates could all rise as more study is done, especially if they require drilling through rock.
ACSA board members acknowledged that the city would be opposed to further study of expanding the station at its current location.
“I know the city doesn’t want Option A on the table, but because the ultimate decision is going to be based on looking at the alternatives rather than picking the ideal thing, we need to advocate for keeping A on the table,” said ACSA member Liz Palmer.
Palmer said doing so would be contingent on directing the consultant to place the new facility as far underground as possible, as well as giving consideration to making it as “architecturally as attractive as possible.”
Board member Bill Kittrell suggested that a design challenge could be conducted to find a solution for Option A that would be supported by the neighborhood.
“Give [designers] a challenge to come up with some ideas that might meet these very restrictive set of circumstances which, in society as a whole, aren’t going away as our communities grow and evolve and these types of situations pop up in urbanized areas,” Kittrell said.
Since Sunday, more than 4 inches of rain have fallen in the community, according to data from the National Weather Service. That amount has overwhelmed the RWSA’s sewer system.
“The volume of water coming into the wastewater plant was beyond the physical capability of the plant to treat, resulting in 5.3 million gallons [of sewage] flowing into Moores Creek,” Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the RWSA’s executive director, wrote in an email.
“Treatment plant operators performed well to the extent the existing infrastructure is capable, which is verification for the need for the capital improvement program we are trying to implement,” Frederick added.
The RWSA’s most recent capital budget, adopted in October, calls for $122 million in projects to repair and upgrade its sewer lines. That includes $25 million for the new pump station, as well as an upgrade of the Moores Creek plant to store more stormwater for later treatment.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
- 01:00 - Clarence Roberts calls the meeting to order and recognizes employees for their service
- 05:30 - ACSA Executive Director Gary O'Connell recognizes Lisa Breeden
- 07:30 - Public comment from John Martin
- 11:00 - Discussion of consent agenda
- 15:00 - Discussion of FY2012 ACSA budget
- 24:30 - Liz Palmer objects to ACSA joining the Chamber of Commerce
- 38:00 - Update on earthen dam design and permitting
- 43:00 - Update on Rivanna pump station
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